Diocese of Wichita priest on administrative leave following an initial review of child sex abuse allegations

Fr. Michel Schemm, ordained in 1993, has been placed on administrative leave and restricted from ministerial duties. The Wichita Diocesan Review Board made these recommendations after an initial review of a child sex abuse report. Fr. Shemm had been working as a pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Bel Aire. In a statement, the Diocese said that the allegations against the cleric were reported to law enforcement.

By our count, Fr. Schemm is the 108th Catholic priest to be accused of sexual abuse or misconduct this year. This number does not reflect all of those named in civil lawsuits. On average, about 10 Catholic clergy members or staffers are accused each month and an average of two per month are criminally charged.

We know that false allegations of sexual abuse are extremely rare and that perpetrators seldom have just one victim. It seems to us that in the interest of openness and transparency, Catholic officials owe it to the faithful at the Church of the Resurrection, as well as parishioners at the priest's previous assignments, including his first assignment at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Wichita, to notify them of the allegations.

The Diocese should also post the statement given to the media regarding this case on their website. It seems irresponsible for the information not to be readily accessible to people looking for the names of those accused of abuse in Wichita.  If Catholic officials are sincere about openness and non-tolerance of abuse of any kind, they would take the necessary steps to inform as many in the flock as possible.  We urge Church leaders in Wichita to remedy this quickly.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386, [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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